Consumer wearables are hot this season and are expected to become a “must have” for consumers over the next several years. The “wearable technology” group encompasses several types, including fitness monitors, activity trackers and smart clothing. Wearables can include smart watches, fitness bands, glasses along with smart bras, smart t-shirts, wearable cameras and more recently but still in the development faze rings and bracelets. The purpose of wearables is for users to take real-world actions by providing relevant, contextual information precisely at the point of decision making. You will find consumers wearing them on their sleeves walking down the street and models on the runway, with the exception of Google Glasses, which lets face it wearers of them probably won’t be getting their own spread in Vogue anytime soon…. Meanwhile Beats headphones which deliver exceptional sound quality to its users is another consumer wearable whose entire existence has been based on being a fashion and status symbol. Celebrities wear them, and people want them. Apple also want them and is rumored to buy beats for the value of $3.2 billion dollars, some have speculated that Apple is simply buying Beats to replenish its “cool factor”. Speaking of cool celebrity rapper Dre himself has a stake in Beats with his own collection Beats by Dre himself with an estimated worth not shy of $1 billion.
One of the latest and not so fashionable consumer wearables as mentioned above is Google Glasses. Kenneth Cole is a brand collaborating with Google Glasses to promote a new product range, it has recently rolled out a Google Glass app to promote its new cologne. The campaign encourages consumers to photograph themselves performing one good deed a day for 21 days,the goal being to be seen as early adopters and innovators. Other wearables include the Smart Bra
that tells you if you are eating too much, the T-shirt that tracks your heartbeat and the Wearable Camera that can quietly and automatically take photographs from the wearer’s neck and lapel. Fitness devices make up the vast majority of the wearable technology market at the moment, with an estimated worth somewhere between $1bn and $3bn today. And worldwide spending on consumer wearable technology will hit $1.4 billion by the end of 2014, and By 2018, the market is expected to hit $19 billion.
Among wearable tech owners, Fitness Bands were the most popular devices (61%), followed by Smart Watches (45%) and Mobile Health devices (17%).
So what is it that motivates consumers to purchase wearables in the first place?
One interesting motivation underlying Smart Watch owners decision to purchase their device was to supplement their everyday Smart Phone addiction. To the consumer more than 75% of them believe wearables will positively impact their wellness.
Retailers can benefit most from smart watches and glasses, as they present new opportunities for customer engagement. One more recent development is the focus on wearable tech that is functional but aesthetically pleasing. Although wearable technology still needs to gain a lot of traction before it can really take off, Retailers and brands already embracing it include Barneys New York and Kenneth Cole (as mentioned above). Barneys New York and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), are collaborating which will result in the development of a “Smart Bracelet” powered by Intel. The “Smart Bracelet” will be sold exclusively at Barneys, making the retailer one of the first luxury store chains to carry this type of item, a mix between tech device and fashion accessory, very cool indeed. Ultimately when choosing wearable tech, consumers look for special features to fit their needs and match their styles.
So what’s next for consumer wearables? Has anyone had first hand experience with any of the consumer wearable devices? Google Glasses, has anyone lost a pair…? we know Dre will be able to buy Google Glasses for a small town if this deal with Apple goes through. We would love to hear your thoughts.